James Holland Burma ’44

Being there . . . . for the rarely described and discussed “Forgotten War”, the Burma Campaign,
fought between the Allies and the Japanese between 8 December 1941 and 12 August 1945,
the longest campaign in which the British engaged in during World War II. Because America’s
lifelines were so lengthy to Sydney and Melbourne, both Australian metropoles harboring our
main bases in the South Pacific several thousand miles from San Francisco (7,795 mi.), and,
from the Panama Canal, over 8,000, our assiduous War Department had the enormous problem
of figuring out how to help the Burmese a hop and a skip away. The Dutch East Indies-Burma-
and-French Indochina were prisoners within an arc-line formed by maximum Japanese
expansion efforts. Burma was extremely important to us because its low jungle and high
mountain route was America’s only remaining line of supplies for our cherished ally, China.
Militarily, we had little to support ANY of our good friends in that part of the Pacific except a
wry smile, watery wink, and seven vague words, “Not to worry, we’ll get through this”.
TIRELESSLY, AMERICA SOUGHT WAYS AND MEANS OF HELPING THE DEFENDERS OF BURMA
STOP THE JAPANESE JUGGERNAUGHT BEFORE IT REACHED INDIA. YES, WE HAD FIGHTING
BASES IN NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA OCCUPIED BY LESS THAN A HUNDRED THOUSAND
TOUGH FIGHTING TROOPS AND OFFICERS, BUT THE PACIFIC WAR EXTENDED FROM ALASKA
AND THE ALEUTIANS TO THE SOUTH AMERICAN COASTAL SUDMARINE BASES. LITERALLY,
EVERY FRIENDLY COUNTRY THROUGHOUT THE LENGTH AND BREADTH OF THAT VAST PACIFIC
WAS ABSENT OF ANTI-AIRCRAFT DEFENSES, SERIOUS SOLUTIONS TO IMPOSSIBLE PROBLEMS
NEEDING IMMEDIATE ADDRESS, THE MOST IMPORTANT BEING THE MEN, WEAPONS, AND
MUNITIONS TO WAGE AN EQUALLY VICIOUS WAR AGAINST “BANZAI”- CHARGING SUICIDE-
BENT TROOPS RESOLUTELY SCREAMING FOR VICTORY AT ALL COSTS. A HECTIC, MESSY TIME TO
HELP OUR SMALLER, HELPLESS, ALLIES. YET, NATURALLY, WE PROMISED THAT . . . . .
Reviewed and highly, highly recommended by Don DeNevi
“Burma ’44 – – The Battle that Turned World War II in the East”, by James Holland, author of
“Normandy ‘44” and “Brothers in Arms”. Atlantic Monthly Press, HISTORY (World War II), New
York; first Grove Atlantic hardcover edition, 2024, copyrighted in 2016 by Griffon Merlin Ltd; 6
¼” x 9 ¼”, 448 pages, 16-page insert IN 4-colo; $30.00. Visit, groveatlantic.com.
In short, this brilliant, totally mesmerizing popular history of a rarely mentioned battle,
named of all things, the Administration Box Battle, will surely be acknowledge as one of the top
World War II books of 2024. Serious buffs have already read it (first edition in 2016), or now
know about this second edition. For the uninitiated buyer, this story, the core of Holland’s
“Burma ‘44”, zeroes in on the Allies second thrust into the Arakan region of Burma which
happened to bump, by accident, into a Japanese attack-offensive to take all of Assam. On 4
through 24 February 1944, the Japanese launched Operation Ha-go in order to decimate India’s
elite 7 th Indian Division holding out at Sinzweya. It ended when the Japanese lost 60 of their
best invaders in the two-weeks of close-quarter fighting. Not only was it the first decisive
victory for British troops against the Japanese but, more importantly, the ferocity of the attacks
and counterattacks showed the world how the Japanese could be defeated. For certain, bloody
killing lessons were learned in an unrecognized region of the Far East. Everyone on the Allied

side felt better knowing the new Japanese tactics. Next followed the little-known but highly
successful campaigns of General William Slim and his Fourteenth Army who turned the tide of
the Pacific War in the East. The inner book jacket flap written by an editor of Grove Atlantic, or,
just recently, by one from the Atlantic Monthly group, describes Jim Holland’s achievement
beautifully: “In ‘Burma ‘44’, acclaimed World War II historian James Holland offers a dramatic
tale of victory against incredible odds. As momentous as the Battle of the Bulge was ten months
later, the Admin Box was a triumph of human grit and heroism that remains one of the most
significant yet underappreciated conflict of the entire World War II. In Holland’s hands, it is
finally given its proper place in the history of all America’s battles.” This reviewer would add,
“nay, in the history of all the world’s military literature.” An absolute best buy for the rest of the
year.

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